The San Francisco Giants offense is struggling right now, and that’s being nice. They need Angel Pagan and Brandon Belt to return and return healthy but even when they do, the lineup has one hole that can’t be ignored. They don’t have a Major League second baseman on the roster.
For a while, they got by with Brandon Hicks belting the occasional longball, but his power soon faded. Ehire Adrianza has yet to show that he can be a consistent Major League player. Joe Panik is only 24 and may one day be a fine player, but he’s too raw to be getting consistent at-bats on a “win now” team. If you’ve watched them for much of June, you may have a hard time believing this, but the Giants are still a win now team and definitely fit the “win now” mode.
So, who should they be looking to at the keystone? Andy Martino of the New York Daily News suggested that both the Giants and Blue Jays are interested in acquiring Daniel Murphy and I have to admit, I like the idea of Murphy being a Giant.
- Question 1: What has Murphy done this year?
Daniel Murphy, 2014
Remember that like AT&T Park, Citi Field is tough on hitters, so know that he hasn’t achieved those stats in a place like Denver or Arizona. It’s pretty fair to say that his skills would translate well to San Francisco’s park. Actually, in 118 plate appearances, Murphy has a slash line of .305/.350/410 at Third and King, so it’s more than fair to think he’d do fine with the Giants.
- Question 2: Where would he fit in the lineup?
This is really intriguing, because when the lineup is healthy, Bruce Bochy could do a lot of things. If I’m setting a lineup, it looks like this once everyone gets back:
- Angel Pagan
- Daniel Murphy
- Buster Posey
- Hunter Pence
- Pablo Sandoval
- Michael Morse
- Brandon Belt
- Brandon Crawford
If Pagan’s injury ends up being a little more serious, I’m basically sliding everyone up a spot and putting Gregor Blanco eighth. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why he’s still leading off.
What makes Murphy fit so well with the Giants is that there’s a lot of flexibility in that lineup. I can say clearly that Pagan would lead off, Posey would bat third or fourth, and Pence would bat either right before or right after Posey.
But obviously Pence has done fine job batting second. A healthy Belt could slide into that role, as could Crawford in a pinch. Murphy could easily work well into the bottom-third of the order and be a catalyst there.
I like him in the second spot because he reminds me a lot of both Freddy Sanchez and Marco Scutaro, and the Giants won a World Series with each of those guys batting second. But you really could juggle that lineup around a lot based on who’s hot and who’s struggling.
- Question 3: What are the problems with this deal?
As I see it right now, there are two problems.
1. It’s not clear what the Mets would want
Daniel Murphy is a nice player, but the cost has to be a reasonable one. Nothing in Martino’s column really suggested what the Mets are looking for so right now, it’s only speculation. The fact that another team is interested does open the door for a possible bidding war.
2. The Mets aren’t actively shopping him.
Let’s go ahead and look at a few bits and pieces of what Martino said.
My understanding in talking with Alderson and other Mets officials over the past few weeks is that the team does not consider itself a seller.
Last August, Sandy Alderson was insisting to Mets underlings that he wanted to win as many games as possible, and was unwilling to trade Marlon Byrd. A few days later, he reassessed, and sent Byrd to Pittsburgh.
In other words, this GM is a hard guy to read.
A trade could well happen, we just don’t know when.
What makes it even more complicated is that the NL East has been so mediocre this year that the Mets are still, at worst, darkhorse contenders. Yes, they sit in the NL East cellar, but they’re closer to the first place Nationals/Braves than the second place Cardinals are to the Brewers in the NL Central.
It’s really hard to blame Alderson for not wanting to shop one of his best players now. Potentially worse for the Giants is that if a trade is going to happen, it probably won’t be a full “fire sale” deal.
Despite all of that, this is a trade the Giants really need to aggressively pursue.
As a Giants fan, it’s been very frustrating to watch them struggle so much this month. It hasn’t helped that the Dodgers have gotten hot. Still, there is some silver lining.
The hole at second base has been there for the whole year, it’s just become more apparent as they’ve gone on a long losing streak. Now that the Dodgers are knocking at the door, the need to make a trade is clear. He may not be the biggest, sexiest name on the market, but neither was Marco Scutaro.
Daniel Murphy would make the Giants a better team and is someone Brian Sabean and company should be pursuing.